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Under the 2019 Child Victim’s Act, survivors of child sexual abuse in New Jersey now have the opportunity to file a civil claim against the individual who hurt them and the institutions responsible, no matter how long ago the abuse occurred. But under this legislation there is only a two year “lookback” window to take action and hold abusers accountable. That grace period is coming to an end. Less than two weeks remain for survivors of sexual abuse in New Jersey to file civil claims against the individual that hurt them. Lawsuits must be filed by November 30, 2021.

The 2019 law was signed by Gov. Phil Murphy and waived the statute of limitations to sue under a 24-month time period ending on Nov. 30, 2021. The law also allowed adults who were assaulted as children to file civil suits until they turn 55, or seven years after they discover that they were abused. It targeted not only individuals who allegedly committed sexual assault, but the churches, schools and community organizations for whom they had worked.

Since the lookback window was opened in 2019, almost 900 cases involving individuals with claims had been filed as of September 30, 2021. These cases would have been previously barred under the old statute of limitations. According to the New Jersey Administrative Office of the Courts most of these cases (62.2%) named a cleric and/or religious institution as a defendant. Schools and the Boy Scouts of America were named in most often(26.8%) in the remaining cases.

Regardless of when the attack(s) occurred or the age of the abuse survivor, less than two weeks remain for survivors to seek damages from their abuser and the institutions that protected them. The two year window ends in less than two weeks, on Tuesday, November 16, 2021.

In cases of child sex abuse that involve trusted adults, such as priests, Scout leaders, or teachers, children are reluctant or unable to talk or face their accusers. There are significant and unique barriers that prevent children from reporting what they intuitively know is inappropriate behavior. Fear of the accusing their abuser, the stigma of being abused, and a reluctance to confront powerful institutions like the church or the Boy Scouts, often keep sexual abuse from being reported. Many victims are unable to talk about abuse or face their accusers until they are well into adulthood, putting the crime beyond the reach of the law. The New Jersey lookback window opened a path for these victims to seek closure, but it will close soon.

This lookback window may be the best opportunity to finally bring your abuser to justice. If you have been the victim of sexual abuse in New Jersey, Saunders & Walker can help, but  it is critical you act soon, Less than two weeks remain and survivors must file by Tuesday, November 30. If a trusted adult, such as a priest  sexually abused you, or anybody you know in New Jersey, please contact Saunders & Walker at 1-800-748-7115 to discuss your legal options. All conversations will be kept strictly confidential.


Were You Sexually Abused by a Clergy Member?

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